American Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who was revealed on Thursday as the mystery buyer of Nevada’s largest daily newspaper, may have purchased the title in order to influence its reporting on a long-running lawsuit against him, the Las Vegas Review-Journal suggested in an extensive and apparently rebellious article on its new owner.
The report revealed tensions between the paper’s staff and Adelson, who officially purchased the publication for $140 million on December 10. According to Friday’s article, the management of the newspaper about a month ago instructed three of its reporters to direct all of their efforts into covering three local county judges. One of the judges — District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez — is involved in the long-running Jacobs v. Sands case.
The case, brought against Adelson and his Las Vegas Sands Corp. by former employee Steven Jacobs, gained international attention after Jacobs — who once ran Sands’ operations in Macau — claimed that Adelson fired him for trying to sever ties to Chinese organized crime triads and had ignored illegal activities at his resorts.
Adelson had reportedly clashed with Judge Gonzalez, sometimes refusing to answer her questions while on the stand and allegedly offering support to a Las Vegas attorney in starting a campaign against her, the article said.
The Review-Journal did not cover the trial itself. But a small Connecticut newspaper called the New Britain Herald on November 30 ran an article from a guest contributor about the legal system in Connecticut, which unusually referred to the Nevada case, calling out Gonzalez by name, criticizing her rulings and questioning her judgment. According to USA Today, the sole name that appears in the paperwork for Adelson’s purchase of the Nevada paper is that of Michael Schroeder, the CEO of the Herald’s parent company, Central CT Communications.
Pundits have also been theorizing that the deep-pocketed GOP kingmaker could be planning to use the paper to try to impact next year’s presidential race. Nevada is fourth in the primary process, with balloting in February.
In the 2012 campaign, Adelson spent more than any other donor, using some $90 million in an effort to secure a Republican victory. His influential Republican Jewish Coalition presidential forum also draws the top GOP candidates, and last Tuesday’s CNN-hosted Republican debate took place at The Venetian, a Las Vegas casino-hotel that is part of Adelson’s empire.
Aside from being involved in presidential politics, Adelson is also waging a campaign against legalization of online gaming, which could impact his casino empire.
In Israel, Adelson has poured money into the free Israel Hayom tabloid, the country’s most-read print newspaper. The paper, branded by critics as a “Bibiton” — a portmanteau of the nickname of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Hebrew word for “newspaper” — is widely seen as highly supportive of Netanyahu, who counts the casino owner as one of his key backers.